Rejoice! Gospel Meditations, by Louis Evely

Lent invites us to refresh our souls, to refocus our lives, to set things right. Rejoice! by Louis Evely, has a way of growing us out of our comfort zones into the light. It challenges us to lift our crosses and follow Jesus. Evely writes: “There were times when Jesus was frightening in his logic, frightening in his relentlessness. He went beyond what was said of him; beyond the half-measures at which the Law had reasonably stopped. Jesus allowed nothing to stop him. He knows only one law: love. And from that law, he draws consequences with logic, which must either electrify or repel his followers.”

Consider the tax collectors and harlots who flocked to the desert to see St. John the Baptist. They asked John, “What must we do?” To their surprise, John told them, “If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.” Luke 3:11.  To approach God who we cannot see; we must first approach our neighbors, especially those in need. The message of John and later Jesus electrified their followers. Imagine the joy among the penitents at finding the path to forgiveness and love. Imagine the community that benefits from their joyful giving.

Consider the Pharisees. Why instead of the Pharisees, did the likes of Matthew, Zacchaeus, other tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes flock to Jesus? Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and angels. They maintained their zeal for the Law and awaited the Messiah. “They should have been Jesus’ staunchest supporters.” On the contrary, many of them joined in the call for Jesus’ death. Evely explains that “The Pharisees were proud of their faith, their knowledge, their good works, and their religious observances. Therefore they were closed to God’s gifts and God’s forgiveness, for they did not believe that they were in need of either.” They believed that they had saved themselves through their rigorous observance of the Law. In their assumption of righteousness, they not only rejected God’s mercy, but they refused to extend mercy toward the unrighteous. Imagine their frustration when Jesus said that they had to change their whole approach to God and that their earlier efforts may have placed them behind the hated tax-collectors on the path to God. The message of Jesus repelled them.

Evely used the Parable of The Prodigal Son to compare the Pharisees to the tax collectors and sinners. The older son keeps the Law, but he does so, resentfully. The prodigal, like the tax collectors, rejects the discipline of the Law, but at least he realizes his sinfulness. He is willing to confess to his father and beg a place among his servants. The father, like God the Father is something of a prodigal in his mercy toward the younger son. God squanders love on sinners and reproves the cold-hearted legalists. God’s ways are not our ways.

Evely observes, “It is one of the paradoxes of human nature that we often find more generosity, compassion, and willingness to serve among libertines and loose women than among our moral rigorists.” To underscore his claim, he cites the Parable of the Vineyard Workers. Those who endured the heat of the day received the same pay as those who worked only one hour. Evely writes that those who worked longer should have rejoiced at the good fortune of the last to arrive. The day-long workers grumbled at their fair wage, but Jesus made the point that the vineyard owner was free to do with his money as he wished, despite how it appeared to the workers. God’s ways are not our ways.

If we proclaim Jesus in our liturgy, we must live according to His teachings by radiating God’s love. “God is no more and no less visible than love itself,” Evely writes. “Other men see it and know that the Spirit of God is present. In the early church, only men ‘filled with the spirit’ were chosen for important missions. And the pagans said of the first Christians, ‘See how they love one another!’ The love of these Christians was such that, through it God Himself was made visible.” The lives of the early Christians proclaimed the Law of Love. In loving, they won the culture war against their pagan environment. Why today, have so many churches closed or serve only the elderly? Why today, do some Catholics fear the lure of the secular culture? Shouldn’t they be more concerned about cold-hearted Church members who lack the compelling love that denoted the early Christians and attracted new Christians?

Wishing you an invigorating Lent, one that brings rejoicing.

Louis Evely also wrote a collection of meditations focused on the Easter-Pentecost season: Joy: Meditations on the Joyful Heritage of Christianity.

Lazarus of Bethany: A Novel, By E. Ann McIntyre

Fictionalized representations of biblical characters often miss the mark. Nevertheless, the Bible serves as a vast treasury of plots and characters, including intriguing hints of narratives read between the lines. One of the most fascinating but little-known characters in the New Testament is Lazarus of Bethany—The Friend of the Lord.

The scriptures do not tell us how Jesus of Nazareth became a friend of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha, and Mary who lived on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Ann McIntyre’s novel offers an imaginative but scripturally consistent backstory that links Jesus and Lazarus from their teen years through the passion and death of Jesus and beyond. The author builds on the scriptural foundation with material gathered outside of the scriptures that support the notion that Lazarus, although at first reluctant, served as an apostle of Christianity.

The author explains:

Outside the Gospels, there are stories that Lazarus lived in Kiton [now Laranca] Cyprus, and that he was named its first Bishop by St. Paul and St. Barnabas. The Church of St. Lazarus is there and is said to house his second grave. Other stories have the Bethany siblings living their mission in southern France. They miraculously arrived there after a forced journey by boat. There are a number of churches built there in their honor, including another burial site for Lazarus.  The Gospel does not tell us what happened to Lazarus after Jesus brought him back to life. We have no idea how the miracle affected Lazarus. He remains a silent witness to his friend who loved him. This story is a fictional offering about Lazarus of Bethany and his relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. It is a story about two boys who lived in an occupied state, in a troubled land, and grew into manhood together.  It is a story of two men, two deaths, two resurrections, and the enemies of the truth who sought to destroy them both. It is a story of doubt, and the journey to faith, of fear, and the journey to courage, of bitterness and the journey to forgiveness.  

The author addresses other poorly explained issues in the Gospels such as the relationship between Jesus and his brothers and sisters, the family connection to Zebedee the fisherman and his sons James and John, and the unusual link between the early Christian community and Pontius Pilate.

Although a compelling work of historical fiction, Lazarus of Bethany offers an inspirational message. It shows Lazarus, Martha, and Mary as close personal friends to Jesus. Lazarus, a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, experiences conflict as Jesus gradually reveals that God is his father. Lazarus, of all people, had an early exposure to Jesus as a dear friend and extraordinary person, but Lazarus resisted Jesus and only reluctantly became a disciple. Martha and Mary knew that Jesus had the power to heal and raise the dead. When Lazarus died, they blamed Jesus. Their reaction resembles that of so many who lose a close relative or friend, especially when prayers had been offered to save that person’s life. Mary’s passionate washing of the feet of Jesus represents the fervent love that many devoted Christians offer to God.

On two counts, the cleverness of the novel and the spiritual benefits of the Lazarus story make Lazarus of Bethany a rewarding read, especially during Lent and the Easter season.

Louis Everly reminds us in Joy: Meditations on the Joyful Heritage of Christianity, his inspirational book on the Easter season that Catholics dutifully sacrifice throughout the fifty days of Lent but forget to celebrate the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost. They pray the Stations of the Cross but neglect the Stations of Joy. There’s no better guide to both the Lenten and Easter events than Lazarus of Bethany, a childhood friend of Jesus.

An Interview with Theresa Linden, Author of Roland West, Loner

 

https://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=624964&part=2

A few questions for Theresa Linden:

  1. In Roland West, Loner and several of your other books, I’ve noticed that you have developed a palate of rich characters. I’m curious as to where you come up with these ideas and how long have you been writing fiction.

 

Ideas for story lines and characters come to me from life, books, TV shows, and my imagination. My father was in the Coast Guard so we moved every few years. I’ve lived in California, Guam, Oahu, and Arizona. I’ve experienced different cultures and situations, like surviving Typhoon Pamela on Guam and seeing the sights in Hawaii. The constant change gave me the impression that life was an adventure. I’m sure it’s the same with all writers; you store up details from people you meet and places you go. And your imagination takes you farther.

I started writing in grade school with my sister. We stole characters from TV shows and movies and wrote them into adventure stories. We took turns writing chapters, ending with a cliffhanger that the other one had to write their way out of. We stopped writing together sometime in high school. At that time my father retired here in Ohio. Having lived in California, Guam, and Hawaii, I found it hard to adjust to the cold. Life got hard, and the adventure seemed to end.

At some point in my adult life, I realized how I could reclaim the adventure. I had to write! I loved my Catholic faith, so I wanted to write fun faith-filled stories for teens. Roland West, Loner was actually the first full story I wrote. That was years ago, and it’s seen many changes, including the title. The final book is much different from the original, but I hope it accomplishes my original goal: to bring to life a little of the richness, depth, and mystery of the Catholic faith and to arouse the imagination to the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace.

 

  1. In Roland West, Loner Roland’s older twin brothers create a lot of conflict in this story. However, for being twins, they are nothing alike. How do you think a pair of identical twins can produce two totally different personalities?

 

I’ve always been fascinated by twins. They share a bond that is unique in sibling relationships. Identical twins have a pair of exactly the same genes, and they often have a similar upbringing, nurturing, and life experiences. So it might be natural to assume that they share personality traits. This, however, is not always the case. Even in situations where identical twins have been treated as two versions of one person, their distinct personalities emerge. This especially becomes obvious in teenage years when a person has more freedom to choose what to wear or to eat, and what to do with their time.

I think the phenomena brings to light the uniqueness of the individual that God has created. We are more than our genes and appearances. Each of us is a unique child of God. Our points of view and motivations, our choices and ways of responding to the good and bad in life are our own.

In Roland West, Loner, Jarret and Keefe are identical twins yet their personalities are vastly different. Jarret has grown into a leader, Keefe the follower. Keefe has developed a sense of right and wrong while Jarret tends to think selfishly. Their personalities complement each other to a degree. They know what the other thinks in a situation, and they rely on each other. But they both have room to grow.

 

  1. Not to give anything away, but one character seems particularly mean. What do you believe makes a person into a bully?

 

I am certainly no expert in what causes behaviors, good or bad, in a person. But a writer should do their research so they can present reasonable situations and believable characters. I think several underlying causes could result in creating a bully or a “control freak.” Perhaps a person had a difficult childhood with a controlling parent, or they experienced a deep hurt in the past that led to feelings of helplessness. Maybe they had unmet needs as a child or didn’t get the attention they wanted and so seek now make life revolve around them.

Each of the West boys experienced a significant loss in their life, during their childhood, and they’ve each handled it in their own way. This loss and their coping methods form a big part of who they are and what hurdles they need to overcome to grow in God’s grace. Mr. West has also been affected by the loss, as future stories in this series will reveal. While sufferings and tragedy affect everyone, the good news is, God can turn the loss into something wonderful if we let Him.

 

  1. This story begins early in the school year. The West boys, who have previously been tutored, must now attend public school. What are your thoughts about public education vs. home schooling and tutoring?

 

Growing up, we moved a lot, so I attended various public and Catholic schools, but I always wished we were home schooled. As a child, I wanted to remain close to home, but I learned to enjoy being with children my age at school. As a pre-teen and teen, I faced bullying, peer pressure, and other issues not related to learning. It is certainly not the case for everyone, but my education suffered because of it.

 

As a mother, I love home schooling my three boys. They get to learn in a safe and comfortable environment. Yes, we sometimes keep our pajamas on all day! They also receive a full education imbued with Christian values. The teaching of the faith isn’t isolated to a particular day. It’s weaved throughout the curriculum and taught in daily life. The boys can learn at their own pace without pressure. And I get to relearn all those things I’ve forgotten from school.

If you were to ask the West boys this question, they would each give a different answer. Jarret loves attending school. He’s extremely social and confident, so this is an opportunity to make friends and feed his ego. Keefe notices the work is easier. He’s been working at his own pace all these years, so he’s a lot farther ahead than the average 10th grader. But to Roland . . . “Every day at River Run High pushed him farther into the nightmare. He had no friends. He heard his name all the time, but not from kids wanting to talk to him. They were talking about him.” No, Roland does not like public school. And I’m sure he represents a group of students that just don’t feel like they’ll ever fit in.

  1. In this story, Peter often finds the behavior of his younger autistic brother a trial. What are the benefits and challenges of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome in a child?

 

I mentioned that life has felt like an adventure. Having a son with autism has become a big part of this adventure. Unable to have children, we adopted and now have three boys (all teenagers now). We felt called to adopt special needs children but had no idea our first baby had autism. We knew something was wrong because he always seemed uncomfortable.

Most parents of special needs children can relate to our story. We raced from one specialist to the next, researched everything we could, tried diets and supplements and various therapies. And some of these things helped. Most didn’t.

The hardest part has been the self-doubt, loneliness, and feelings of failure. Other moms gave me advice, but nothing seemed to help. As a new mom, I often felt like I wasn’t doing it right, and that maybe I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. But after a while, I stopped listening to the “baby advice” and worked on trusting God with this challenge. It was then that I learned to relax and enjoy our son for who he was without expecting him to act like others. I’ve come to accept that he will always have autism—unless God wants to change that via miracle—but it’s okay. While I continue to encourage behavior that will help him in life, I no longer worry about squelching all of his unique behaviors and personality quirks. They are a wonderful part of him.

It is easy for parents of special needs children to feel alone in their journey as they try to address the unique needs of their child. But God has chosen us to be their parents. He trusts us to raise these children to know, love and serve Him in their unique way. As soon as my son could walk, he wouldn’t sit still in church until the Eucharistic payers. Then he wanted to stand on the pews and watch. I let him, even when his size and age made it seem unreasonable. He hasn’t always been able to hold his body still, but he’s always been drawn to the Mass. And now as a teenager, he is the proudest altar boy at our church. He would serve every Mass if he could. And he does a fantastic job. I know he makes Our Lord very happy. And isn’t that all we really want for our children?

 

  1. Since Roland West, Loner is the first in a series, what comes next for these characters?

 

The second book in this series picks up where this one leaves off. The focus shifts from Roland to Caitlyn. Caitlyn has a crush on someone, but her parents have just announced that they expect her to practice old-fashioned courtship! To make matters worse, she’s got competition from a cute, bubbly girl with no restrictions. We’ll still get to see what the West boys are up to, but I can’t tell you now or I’d spoil the surprise! I can tell you that the characters face questions every young person faces as they come of age. Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there? And what’s love got to do with it? Facets of Theology of the Body, especially that human love is an expression of the eternal love to which God calls us, come to life through the choices and discoveries of these teenage characters.

Feel free to ask questions about Roland West, Loner. While you’re composing a question, try your luck in a raffle for an autographed copy of the book. Click on LONER  or West and travel to the raffle site. Good luck.

Please enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win an autographed copy! Entry form on several of the blog stops.

Tuesday, Dec. 1        Don Mulcare: Peace to all who enter here!

Check out the author interview and the book cover wrap.

Wednesday, Dec. 2  Erin McCole Cupp: Faith, Fiction and Love No Matter What 

Top 10 Reasons You Will Love Catholic Teen Fiction

Amy J Cattapan, Author & Speaker, Stories with Heart & Hope 

Book Review of Roland West, Loner

Thursday, Dec. 3     Barb Grady Szyszkiewicz at CatholicMom.com

Book Review of Roland West, Loner

Friday, Dec. 4          Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur: Spiritual Woman

Book cover, blurb and review blurb

Saturday, Dec. 5      Cynthia Toney

Book cover, blurb and quote from book

Sunday, Dec. 6        Karl Bjorn Erickson, Author

Behind the Scenes and First Chapter

Monday, Dec. 7        Carolyn Astfalk, Relevant Fiction for Body & Soul

Character interview-you won’t want to miss this one!

 

Testing Liberty, by Theresa Linden

She lies in her darkened cell, alone, cold, hungry and exhausted, awaiting the tortures of the Re-Education Facility. The Regimen Custodia Terra have Liberty 554-062466-84 of Aldonia, exactly where she wants to be. Something of a MacGyver, Liberty becomes more dangerous in captivity than on the loose—always improvising, planning and scheming. Ever elusive, Liberty frustrates the violet-eyed, narcissist Dr. Supero, the lecherous and traitorous Sid, the snooping and callous Chief Varden, the master watchdog of the Citizen’s Safety Station spy network.

In Chasing Liberty, the first volume of a trilogy, Liberty fails because of her selfish desire to save a friend bringing about the destruction of the Maxwell Colony. Its citizens, including its children are now in the clutches of the Regimen awaiting absorption. Driven to free the colonists, she raises both the admiration and suspicion of the underground, the Mosheh. Her relationship with her rescuer and love interest, Dedrick suffers as he tries curb her daring exploits. His involvement with the tribe of wild-men, the Torvah also jeopardizes his relation with Liberty. The one constant in her life remains the inner voice that Liberty calls, My Friend.

Theresa Linden drives her characters through relentless action and the contortions of unforeseen plot twists, shifting alliances, and frustrations. She tantalizes her readers as Liberty and her allies draw ever so near their goals, only to encounter more devious adversaries with cryptic agendas.

Readers of Chasing Liberty find the sequel, Testing Liberty, delightful, but tantalizing, as they anticipate the final volume in the Liberty Trilogy.

Warning: reading this novel may induce sleeplessness and an elevated heart rate.

Yes, A Short Story, by E. Ann McIntyre

 

During a cold and damp Lent, Yes, a homeless immigrant, barely survives his crossing of the Mediterranean to Italy. Suffering from pneumonia and a multitude of injuries, he finds shelter among Bernini’s colonnade in Vatican City, drawing disdainful stares from Christian tourists and members of the curia.

Thanks to the outreach programs instituted by Pope Francis, Yes and his homeless colleagues of every faith, enjoy hot showers, haircuts, laundry service, second-hand clothes, a free-clinic and a daily hot lunch. Papa Francis continually surprises his guests as he welcomes them and personally attends to their needs. Yes remarks on Papa’s humility, mercy and service, especially during the Holy Thursday liturgy. Yes reciprocates in his own way.

McIntyre’s fresh approach to story-telling fuses the art of parable with social commentary, travelogue and mystery. She blends ancient and current events with only moderate fractures to the space-time continuum. Subtly garnished with scriptural allusions, this fast paced and colorful saga delivers an up-close and personal encounter with Pope Francis as he embraces the poor and strangers. McIntyre compares and contrasts the life of Christ in the gospels and modern church theory and practice. Yes serves as a launching pad for discussion groups and for private reflection.

Your Faith Has Made You Well, by Barbara Hosbach

Thank you Barbara Hosbach for writing, exclusively for me, “Your Faith Has Made You Well.” I’m amazed at how you know me so thoroughly, and I realize that you must have spent hours or even days meditating on each of these scriptures in order to develop such marvelous insights and probing questions, just for me. I don’t mind if others read her latest book, just so they know it’s mine.

Humans require constant healing—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We submit to all sorts of indignities and expenses to obtain wellness. Barbara Hosbach has culled stories of healing from the gospels as illustrations how we may approach Jesus, the Healer. We can expect the unexpected. Jesus will touch us, test us, and turn us from our habitual paths. Like the multitudes who followed Him, we know that Jesus can and will give us what we really need, even if we fail to recognize that need.

Every person that Jesus healed eventually died, so the physical healing wasn’t the most important outcome of their meeting. Barbara Hosbach underscores Jesus’ practice of granting forgiveness of sins before healing a petitioner. She reminds us that in Revelations (12:10), Satan, the “Accuser” will condemn us before the throne of God, while the merciful Jesus will advocate for us. How easy is it for us despair as Satan reveals each of our dark secrets? We may someday stand like spiritual lepers before the Father. Barbara Hosbach reminds us of Jesus’ words to the ten lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Certainly, this is a veiled recommendation that we seek spiritual cleansing in the confessional.

Do you cry out for help, but can’t let go of your self-destructive habits? Are you afraid to trust Jesus who gave up everything to save you? Are you overwhelmed by your sense of unworthiness? Are you bound by rigid rules and regulations that prevent you from loving God, your brothers and sisters? Do you see the sins of others rather than their love and goodness? Do you rely on your talents and intelligence to solve your unsolvable problems, rather than pray unceasingly for God’s guidance and intervention?

Strengthen your faith so that Jesus can make you well. These daily scripture readings, meditations and questions to ponder offered by Barbara Hosbach will advance the healing process by bringing you closer to the Healer and disposing you to receive His healing touch.

A private or community meditation for use during Lent.

Stations of the Cross

Leader:                                     Let Us Pray

Response:         Lord, you accepted this journey for our benefit and in our place. Help us to recognize the depth of your love for us so that we may set that love as the framework for our entire lives. Many see your journey as the ultimate foolishness. Help us to become fools in your image by recognizing the world, and our lives, through your eyes. Guide us; strengthen us to love the people of that world, as does your Sacred Heart.

Response: Amen.

Leader: First Station – Jesus is condemned.

Leader: Jesus, you stood in our place before the judgment seat.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector A:          Pontius Pilate, procurator and judge faced the crowds milling beyond the limit of the Praetorium.  His wife warned him she had suffered much in a dream because of this Jesus. Scourging Jesus did not satisfy the crowd and now they wanted Jesus dead. They seemed on the brink of riot. Pilate feared an embarrassing report would reach the Emperor. The crowds chanted their loyalty to Rome-We have no king but Caesar. This Jesus seemed harmless enough, but if Pilate lost favor with the Emperor, his career path would detour toward disaster. What was more important, the career of Pontius Pilate or the life of Jesus?

What is more important to us, our careers, worries, distractions, life-long habits, or the life of Jesus in us? Consider your thoughts on this question. (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Response: Have mercy on us.

Leader: Second Station – Jesus is made to carry the cross.

Leader: Jesus, you took upon yourself the painful burden that rightly belongs to us.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector B:          Jesus, you told us, “Take up your cross and follow me.” The Father tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. The boy carried on his shoulders the wood destined to feed the sacrificial fire that would consume him. You stopped Abraham and praised him for his willingness to lovingly obey you even to the point of sacrificing his son.

God our Father, you went beyond the love and fidelity of Abraham. You did not withhold your son Jesus as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. The wood of the cross consumed Jesus in the sacrifice of crucifixion. We must ask ourselves, “Has the sacrifice of Jesus convinced us of God’s intense love for us?” When we feel the weight of our own cross do we doubt God’s love for us? Reflect on several ways that we can strengthen our faith in God’s love for us. (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Our Father…

Response: Give us this day….

Leader: Third Station – Jesus falls for the first time.

Leader: Jesus, you fell to the street under the burden that rightly belongs to us.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector C:          Jesus, as the foot of the cross dragged behind you through Jerusalem’s rough and the twisted cobblestone streets, it vibrated, hammering its rough mass upon your shoulders, neck, and back. Cuts and bruises already covered your skin, from your beating. The cross pushes against these wounds and the crown of thorns. Its splinters slid into your body. Suddenly, the shoving and whipping by the guards cause you to lose your balance. You fall on the stone paved street. The cross crashes onto your back and head. How can you regain your balance? The soldiers pull on the ropes around your waist and neck, roughly lifting you to your feet. No one shows mercy. Those who delighted in your sufferings added to them by mocking you, spitting on you and cursing you.

Jesus loves even those who torment him. Pause to consider how can we follow Jesus’ example of loving us, by our loving those who hurt us? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Christ, have mercy

Response: Christ, have mercy

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Fourth Station – Jesus meets Mary, his Mother.

Leader: Jesus, even in your pain you share your Mother Mary with us.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector A:          Mary, our Blessed Mother kept her faith through trials, contradictions and now this dreadful sight. She shares the agony of the Son she knows to be the Messiah. Her faith tempers her profound sorrow. The Holy Spirit dwells in Mary, maintaining hope despite the tragedy about her. Even in this terrible moment and those moments soon to follow, Mary knows that the covenant with God’s people is about to be sealed with the Blood of the Lamb of God. This will be the Passover that joins the Old and New Covenants.

What it would take for us to remain joyful when our hearts are pierced and broken? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Hail Mary, full of grace…

Response: Holy Mary, mother of God….

Leader: Fifth Station – Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross.

Leader: Dear Jesus, Simon shows us the way to share with you that burden that rightly belongs to us.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector B:          By this time, Jesus looked as if he was no longer capable of carrying his cross to his place of execution. Roman law allowed the soldiers to command a by-stander, in this case Simon from Cyrene in North Africa, to carry the cross in place of Jesus. Simon found the cross to be heavy and rough. His shoulders, arms and hands filled with splinters, but something happened between Jesus and Simon on the rest of the climb to Calvary. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Simon’s sons were known within the early Christian community. How did Simon and Jesus form a lasting bond so quickly?

When circumstances force you to help a stranger, do you act as if you are helping Jesus?  (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Glory be to the Father…

Response: As it was in the beginning….

Leader: Sixth Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Leader: Jesus, Veronica shows us the way to share with you that burden that rightly belongs to us.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector C:          Who was Veronica? The name Veronica means, “True Image” or “True Icon.” This woman’s compassion for the distressed Jesus left her with an imprint on her veil and upon her heart. It was a simple act, but under the circumstances it was an act that required courage, sacrifice and personal risk. Where were the apostles and disciples of Jesus at this time? Why, of all the people along the path to Golgotha did Veronica reach out in this way? What did it cost her? What did she gain? Did the image of Jesus on her veil then imprint within the soul of Veronica? Is this image truly reflected in your soul? When we see someone in distress, do we reach out as if that person was Jesus? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Christ, have mercy

Response: Christ, have mercy

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Seventh Station – Jesus falls the second time.

Leader: Jesus, you have fallen again despite the help along the way, but as you fall, you raise us up.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector A:          Jesus, even without the cross on his back, fell again. Although the morning was still young, because of the Passover, the executioners felt pressure to complete the crucifixion process before sundown. The Roman soldiers pulled and beat Jesus. Simon the Cyrenian likely set down the cross to lift Jesus to his feet. Sadness filled Simon’s eyes. Jesus reached out to touch Simon’s shoulder and healed his heart. Simon nodded and said, “Thank you.” Simon then picked up the heavy cross and began to walk ahead.

Jesus, even though you are the son of God, you can’t do it all. You need our help, as weak as we are. Even though we are far from perfect and have made so many mistakes, Lord we want to help you complete your mission.

Consider how we can stand in for Jesus among those we know and meet? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Christ, have mercy

Response: Christ, have mercy

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Eighth Station – Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

Leader: Jesus, you warn the daughters of Jerusalem, and warn us at the same time.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector B:          Women in the crowd followed Jesus and the other condemned men. They wept at the tragedy unfolding before them. Jesus in turn took pity on these women warning them that in their old age, they, their children and grandchildren in Jerusalem would fall to the Romans in a slaughter of unimaginable proportions.  Jesus would have gathered Jerusalem to himself, like a hen takes her chicks under her wings. It all could have come to a different conclusion had Jerusalem opened to the message of Jesus. How have we failed to recognize God’s plan for us?

What does God want us to do and how should we respond? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Christ, have mercy

Response: Christ, have mercy

Leader: Lord, have mercy

Response: Lord, have mercy

Leader: Ninth Station – Jesus falls the third time.

Leader: Jesus, you are exhausted. Let us come to your aid. In your exhaustion you give us strength.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector C:          The deterioration of Jesus concerns the Centurion. He has also noted the interactions of Jesus with Mary, Veronica, the group of crying women and especially Simon. Nevertheless, his soldiers have to bring Jesus to the top of Calvary just a hundred yards ahead. Rather than pulling Jesus by the rope around his waist and neck, the Centurion helps him to his feet. They make eye contact. The Centurion begins to wonder about this man. He is so different from the hundreds he has crucified-What is so unusual about this one?

What do we find most remarkable in the suffering Jesus? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: O Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Response: Have mercy on us.

Leader: Tenth Station – Jesus is stripped before his execution.

Leader: Jesus, you lost everything though crucifixion so that we could have everything.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector A:          Crucifixion was developed to completely degrade a human with pain and humiliation. The three prisoners were stripped and each was thrown down on his cross. Their executioners divided and even cast lots for whatever possessions remained. The condemned, in their nakedness were exposed to public humiliation, vulnerable to the biting insects and defenseless against the intense sunlight. Privacy, dignity and their last possessions vanished. They had nothing and in the eyes of their executioners, they were nothing. Jesus gave up every worldly possession, every comfort and freedom for us.

Do we have a limit to our generosity toward Jesus? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: O Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Response: Have mercy on us.

Leader: Eleventh Station – Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

Leader: Jesus, as you became helpless on the cross; you opened your arms to us.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector B:          By this time the two men condemned to be crucified with Jesus made their last desperate struggle to break free. The soldiers were ready for them, kneeling on their arms and legs as the nails were driven through their hands and feet. Then the soldiers could relax as they watched their victims writhe in pain. They all knew that the worst was yet to come. Jesus did not resist. He certainly reacted to the painful stabbing of his hands and feet, but he didn’t curse or plead. Instead he prayed a psalm beginning with the words: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The Centurion and his troops looked at each other. Their eyes asked, “Who is this man? Why is he so different? Does he seem like a criminal to you?”

Who is Jesus to us? What makes him so different from us? Is it God who abandoned Jesus, or did we? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Twelfth Station – Jesus dies on the cross.

Leader: Jesus, you died for us so that we may live.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector C:          One by one the feet of the three crosses were dropped into their prepared sockets in the hill top and wedged in place. The body of Jesus and the other two dropped so that the nails tugged against their hands and feet. Over the next hours, their flesh pulled against the nails enlarging the wounds. Their muscles cramped. Breathing, actually any movement increased their pain. The three knew they would hang for hours. Their blood loss increased their thirst. The executioners offered vinegar flavored with gall so that the condemned experienced every possible misery.  In his bitterness, one of the condemned heaped insults on Jesus. The Centurion noticed that Jesus offered comfort to Dismas, the other condemned man. Jesus continued to pray the psalms until, after many hours, he breathed his last. Sadness and wonder struck the Centurion. He could not help but remark, “Truly, this Jesus was a good man.”

What are your thoughts when you look at the image of Jesus suspended on the large crucifix above the altar? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: O Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Response: Have mercy on us.

Leader: Thirteenth Station – Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Leader: Jesus, before you died you had given us your mother Mary as our Blessed Mother. Now, your mission completed, you came to rest in her arms.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector A:          Mary had followed the deadly procession through Jerusalem.  She had come close enough to walk beside Jesus and exchange glances and a few words. On Golgotha she moved ever closer to her dying son. Mother and Son suffered each other’s pain. And now, in the short time before sundown, she held the lifeless body of her Son. She was not surprised by what had happened, but still she could have never been prepared for this reality. During her life, her Immaculate Heart had been pierced by seven swords. The pain was unbearable, but her faith, hope and love undiminished. She knew that in spite of everything, Jesus would reign as Messiah and King. She was wise in the ways of the Lord. She had experienced God’s quiet power before. She knew it would act again.

When everything seems lost, do we still have faith in God? Do we call upon Mary to help us understand? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: O Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Response: Have mercy on us.

Leader: Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Response: Pray for us.

Leader: Fourteenth Station – Jesus is buried in the tomb.

Leader: Jesus has given his life for us and seems to have lost everything so that we may live.

Response: We thank you Lord.

Lector B:          The religious law was clear. Jesus had to be in the grave before sunset. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had worked behind the scenes to prepare Joseph’s own tomb for Jesus. The need to quickly bury Jesus added to the anxiety of separation. Soon his body was wrapped, but not properly covered with spices according to the customs. The stone was set in place at the entrance of the tomb and those very few, the several women and John the apostle who had followed Jesus through his sufferings on this day and had seen him die, now stood weeping in the fading daylight. They were ushered out of the cemetery as the sun slowly set. Painfully, they made their way toward the upper room where they would wait until the completion of Passover. Only then could they properly prepare their Lord for burial.

 

How do you keep your faith when Jesus seems to have completely vanished from your life? (Pause a minute for reflection.)

Leader: Glory be to the Father…

Response: As it was in the beginning….

Leader:                                     Let Us Pray

Response:         Lord, on your journey to the cross and the grave you continued to touch everyone around you, deeply affecting Simon the Cyrenian, the women you met, Dismas the thief and even your chief executioner, the Centurion. You gave us your blessed Mother as a comfort in our desolation. You forgave those who deserted, betrayed, condemned and executed you. You gave us hope through your mercy. You amazed us with your victory over death. Give us courage to set your example as the model for our behavior. Help us to live as your faithful disciples, sharing your love and compassion with friends and enemies alike so that all may come to see you as the Christ, our Messiah on this earth and our beloved brother throughout eternity.

Amen.

Second Edition Copyright © 2014 held by Saint Mary’s Church, 41 Harding Street, Fairhaven, MA 02719 USA. All rights reserved. Should you make copies for use in community prayer, please make a suitable donation to Saint Mary’s Church ($0.50/copy).

Thanks to Nancy Ward and Shirley France for their editorial contributions to the second edition.